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If you really read the fairy-tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other - the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition.This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales.And so again these toiling serfs in Fleet Street, when they catch a glimpse of the fairies, think the fairies are utterly free.
Originally published in 1908, this text comes from the 1915 edition.
The fairy-tales are at root not only moral in the sense of being innocent, but moral in the sense of being didactic, moral in the sense of being moralising. Science denounces the idea of a capricious God; but Mr. And I have my doubts whether this feeling of the free, wild spirits on the crest of hill or wave is really the central and simple spirit of folk-lore.
But suppose a man were born in a modern prison, and grew accustomed to the deadly silence and the disgusting indifference; and suppose he were then suddenly turned loose upon the life and laughter of Fleet Street.
He would, of course, think that the literary men in Fleet Street were a free and happy race; yet how sadly, how ironically, is this the reverse of the case!
The boy eating some one's apples in some one's apple tree should be a reminder that he has come to a mystical moment of his life, when one apple may rob him of all others.
This is the profound morality of fairy-tales; which, so far from being lawless, go to the root of all law.
The objection, however, is not only false, but very much the reverse of the facts. Yeats and other sensitive modern souls, feeling that modern life is about as black a slavery as ever oppressed mankind (they are right enough there), have especially described elfland as a place of utter ease and abandonment - a place where the soul can turn every way at will like the wind.
SOME solemn and superficial people (for nearly all very superficial people are solemn) have declared that the fairy-tales are immoral; they base this upon some accidental circumstances or regrettable incidents in the war between giants and boys, some cases in which the latter indulged in unsympathetic deceptions or even in practical jokes.
The whole happiness of fairyland hangs upon a thread, upon one thread.
Cinderella may have a dress woven on supernatural looms and blazing with unearthly brilliance; but she must be back when the clock strikes twelve.